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Summer 2012  

There’s only three months of summer. Make them count!

Have you started writing your summer bucket list yet? The challenge is simple: brainstorm fun, family-focused activities, moments, and memories to do before the end of the summer — and then get started with the fun! Notebook - check, Pen - check, fun ideas - check. Start out in a notebook but don't stay in that notebook. Take the time to make it pretty, and display it someplace where you will be reminded of all the fun you can have this summer. It's too easy to just stash a notebook somewhere and forget about it. Here are some websites for inspiration.

Are you looking for ideas to fill your summer bucket list? Here are some places to get you started:

Where do you find inspiration for your summer bucket list? Come on .... let us know, or better yet .... Blog about it!!

A Parent's Guide to Insurance for College Students

Students heading off to college, especially for the first time, face many insurance issues that they or you may not have considered. Here's a quick look at four of those issues.

Renter's insurance. Probably the most overlooked form of insurance coverage when a student heads for college is property insurance. Students today tend to own more valuable personal items in their dorm or off-campus apartment than in the past, and campuses are not immune to theft or damage. The Independent Insurance Agents of America estimates 100,000 property crimes occur on campuses annually (that doesn't count off-campus crimes). Beyond clothing and bedding, a student's room may contain a DVD player, television, computer and stereo equipment. Students in apartments will likely have additional items such as kitchenware and furnishings.

The school or landlord will probably not cover loss of these contents in such events as fire or theft and the parent's homeowner's policy may or may not cover the items. For students living in college housing, policies usually cover contents up to ten percent of the contents coverage of the parent's policy. For example, if the parents are covered for $75,000, their student is covered up to $7,500. See whether your policy will cover contents and to what dollar maximum. You may need to buy extra coverage through your carrier or even buy a separate renter's policy.

Your homeowner's policy almost certainly will not cover contents in off-campus housing. You will most likely need to buy a separate renter's policy. Some policies will let roommates share the policy. Renter's policies are affordable, with annual premiums running $150 to $200 for coverage of $15,000 in personal property and $100,000 to $300,000 in liability.

Health insurance. First, find out what coverage your own medical policy will provide for your child, particularly if your child is going to school out of state. It may not cover anything but emergency care. If the policy will still cover your child for routine care, he or she may need to switch to a primary care physician closer to school, or you may need to get local referrals for your student's out-of-state care.

Age is another factor. Policies generally stop coverage for a child once they reach a certain age, even if they are still a dependent. That cutoff age typically is 23, but could be earlier. Policies also will frequently not cover a child who is a part-time student.

If you don't have your own medical coverage, or your policy's coverage is limited, consider student health insurance that many colleges now offer. Typically, it's affordable, though coverage may be limited (such as no coverage during summer break), with high deductibles. The student also may be able to see a doctor or nurse for free or a nominal fee at the student health center, though more extensive care such as X-rays usually will have fees to cover.

Auto insurance. Seven in ten students have cars at school, according to the Independent Insurance Agents of America. What impact having a family car at college will have on premiums depends in part on where your student goes to school. In some cases, coverage could go up, in other cases it could go down. Regardless, failure to tell the carrier that your child has a car at school could jeopardize subsequent claims. Students earning good grades may actually find their premium reduced.

If your child lives out of the house and doesn't have a car at school, talk to your insurance agent to see if you can get a premium reduction now that the child isn't a regular user. You could save hundreds of dollars or more, particularly if you've been paying high premiums for teenage drivers and the student is going to school far from home.

Life and disability insurance. Ideally, you should already have sufficient coverage to ensure that your student will be able to finish college should you die or be disabled. However, let this column serve as a reminder in the event you haven't looked at those policies lately.

The easiest way to save on Windstorm Insurance

Florida is just one of the several US states that often gets hit by windstorms and violent hurricanes. Having windstorm insurance is crucial in order for residents to become fully prepared and equipped in safeguarding their homes. Given the current state of the economy, residents are wary of paying for anything beyond the absolute essentials, windstorm insurance included. However there are some practical steps that homeowners can take in order to lower their monthly outlay for insurance. A good strategy is to have a wind mitigation assessment done.   

Since Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992, Florida has taken the lead in adopting regulatory provisions related to hurricane resistant construction. Shortly after Andrew, Florida Statute 627.0629 was adopted to require residential property insurance providers in Florida to provide “discounts, credits, or other rate differentials, or other appropriate reductions in deductibles” for residential properties where construction methods that have been shown to reduce loss caused by windstorms are employed. Incentives are required to be offered for mitigation techniques that address “roof strength, roof covering performance, roof-to-wall strength, wall-to-floor-to-foundation strength, opening protection, and window, door, and skylight strength.” Insurance providers are required to provide a percentage discount range for the mitigation measure to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to be available to homeowners. 

Wind mitigation inspections are probably the easiest way to lower your Florida homeowners insurance (and maybe your mortgage payment). Most homes in Florida have some built-in features that qualify for credits. A simple inspection by a wind mitigation inspector is all it takes. 

A Wind Mitigation Inspection is a valuable inspection service that may not only reduce your windstorm insurance, but will also point out some areas of concern in the event of strong winds that might protect your home.

If you earned it, why not claim it? 

Discounts are available for constructing house structures that withstand or are more resistant to high winds. These discounts are justified because the stronger the building structures are, the lower the damage and losses, which ultimately means reduced costs for the insurance companies.  Total savings for Floridians who have ordered their wind mitigation report exceeds one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000.00) per year. We want you to get the discounts you deserve, don’t get left out.

To qualify for a Windstorm Mitigation Discount and/or rebate on your existing homeowner insurance policy, insurance companies require a licensed building professionals certification of the structure. The inspection on average saves Floridians 20% off their home insurance even if they do not have hurricane shutters. The discount is good for 5 years, then a new inspection is needed. The inspection companies charge $95-$150 on average for this inspection depending on location and the size of the home.

Wind Mitigation Inspections are available for all single family homes, townhouses, condos and commercial buildings. Homeowner's and Condo Associations also qualify for wind mitigation credits. 

They will report on the wind resistance features of a certain property or real estate building. Inspectors will examine roof straps, glass structures, roof type,Wind Mitigation Diagram for Insurance Savings Calculator shutters, elevations, and other features. Once the inspection is completed, the detailed report will be forwarded to the windstorm insurance company. The provider will then calculate discounts based on the gathered inspection data. Overall, they will give the home a hurricane wind resistance rating. The number will state and define how resistant the home is to destructive hurricane winds. A low number should encourage the resident to make the necessary structural improvements in order to lower insurance rates in the future, and more importantly to be safe during a storm. The homeowner will also be given a detailed report on ways to improve the home in order to pass the next inspection. An improvement in ones rating can easily be obtained by responding to the report and making the appropriate renovations to the three main areas of the home--namely, the doors and windows, the roof, and the main structure.

If qualified, the windstorm insurance policy holder will be granted a refund from the existing policy which also includes discounts on future windstorm insurance policies. The report conducted may also include recommendations for protection against other calamities such as tornadoes and tropical storms. All in all, wind mitigation inspection is a wise move for current and potential homeowners

What qualifies for an Windstorm Mitigation Insurance Discount:

  • Roof coverings, such as shingles that meet the FBC Requirements.

  • Roof decks that have been installed with large nails and close spacing.

  • Hurricane clips/straps that hold the roof structure to the walls.

  • Protection of Openings such as windows and glass doors with impact resistant glazing or other protection systems.

  • Secondary Water Resistance that prevents the roof from leaking if the roof covering is blown off in a windstorm.

  • Newly Constructed Homes built to the Building Code since March 1, 2002

How much will you save?  

The dollar value of the discounts depends on three primary factors:

  • The number of wind resistive construction features present on your home – Some individual features may qualify for 10% discount and others only a few percent. The more wind resistive features you have, the higher total discount will be. The discounts can be as high as 30% or more of the wind portion of the insurance premium. (The portion of your premium that is for wind losses is provided on your policy declaration page). 

  • The location of your home – Wind insurance rates vary by location within the state. If your wind insurance rates are high, then the percentage discounts will result in more dollars for a house in a high rate area versus the same house in a lower rate area. 

  • The value of your home – Discounts are calculated as a percentage of the wind premium for your specific home. High value homes have higher premiums, hence, the dollar value of the discounts will increase as the value of the home increases. 

The actual savings are determined by your insurance carrier. We have typically seen savings exceeding $200 per year. Windstorm mitigation discounts apply to a homeowner's policy for at least 5 years. Inspection fees average about $125. The math works out to a pretty exciting result.

Quote start A $125 investment in this report is likely 

         to  save  you  money  not  only in year 1,

         but $1,000 over the  next  5  years.      Quote end

Your local agent can be a real asset

There are many advantages in dealing with your hometown insurance agent. These include help in getting your windstorm inspection report turned in, and making sure you get the credit you deserve. You can send us a thank-you note for prodding you. 

Making Sure Your Home Is Properly Covered for a Disaster

For many people, their home is their greatest asset, so it is crucial to avoid being underinsured. To protect their investment from disasters, homeowners should update their insurance regularly to include improvements, major purchases and increased rebuilding costs. 

Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, despite the major drop off in construction activity, construction prices have actually risen significantly. Furthermore, after a disaster, materials and labor may become scare, driving repair and rebuilding costs up even further.

To properly insure your home, it is important to ask your insurance agent or company representative four key questions.

1. Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?

Your policy needs to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs. Unfortunately, some homeowners simply purchase enough insurance protection to satisfy their mortgage lender. Others confuse the real estate value of their home with what it would cost to rebuild it. Quite simply, you should have enough insurance to rebuild your home in the event that it is completely destroyed. Be sure to consider the following: 

Replacement Cost Most policies cover replacement cost for damage to the structure. A replacement cost policy pays for the repair or replacement of damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality.

Extended Replacement Cost This type of policy provides additional insurance coverage of 20 percent or more over the limits in your policy, which can be critical if there is a widespread disaster that pushes up the cost of building materials and labor.

Inflation Guard This coverage automatically adjusts the rebuilding costs of your home to reflect changes in construction costs. Find out if your policy includes this coverage or if you have to purchase it separately.

Ordinance or Law coverage If your home is badly damaged, you may be required to rebuild it to meet new (and often stricter) building codes. Ordinance or law coverage pays a specific amount toward these costs.

Water Back-Up  This coverage insures your property for damage from sewer or drain back-up. Most insurers offer it as an add-on to a standard policy.

Flood Insurance Standard home insurance policies provide coverage for disasters such as fire, lightning and hurricanes. They do not include coverage for flood (including flooding from a hurricane). Flood insurance is available through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (www.floodsmart.gov), but can be purchased from the same agent or company representative who provides you with your home or renters insurance. Make sure to purchase flood insurance for the structure of your house, as well as for the contents. Excess Flood Protection, which provides higher limits of coverage than the NFIP in the event of catastrophic loss by flooding, is available from some insurers. Keep in mind that there is a 30-day waiting period before the insurance is valid. 

2. Do I have enough insurance to replace all of my possessions?

Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for your personal possessions for approximately 50 percent to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. So if you have $100,000 worth of coverage on the structure of your home, you would be covered for $50,000 to $70,000 worth of the contents of your home, depending on the policy.

The best way to determine if this is enough coverage is to conduct a home inventory, which details everything you own and the estimated cost to replace these items if they are stolen or destroyed by a disaster. To help with this task, you can download the I.I.I.’s free home inventory software [link]. Remember to keep your home inventory in a safe place, and take it with you if you need to evacuate your home during a disaster.

You can insure your possessions in two ways: by their actual cash value or their replacement cost. Make sure you review with your agent or company representative which type of coverage is best for your particular situation. 

  • Cash Value Policy This coverage pays the cost of replacing your belongings minus depreciation.

  • Replacement Cost Policy This coverage reimburses you for the full current cost of replacing your belongings.

To illustrate the difference between the two types of policies, suppose, for example, a fire destroys a 10-year-old television set in your living room. If you have a replacement cost policy for the contents of your home, the insurance company will pay to replace the TV with a comparable new one. If you have an actual cash value policy, it will pay only a small percentage of the cost of a new TV set because the old TV has been used for 10 years and is now worth a lot less than its original cost. Some replacement cost policies specify that the new item be purchased by the insurance company as they may be able to purchase at a bulk or special rate. The price of replacement cost coverage is about 10 percent more than that of actual cash value.

3. Do I have enough coverage for additional living expenses?

Coverage for additional living expenses pays the extra costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can't live in it due to an insured disaster such as a hurricane. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, transportation and other living expenses incurred while your home is inaccessible or being rebuilt. It is important to note that it covers only those expenses that are over and above your regular living expenses, so it would not cover your mortgage, or regular trips to the grocery store. If you rent out part of your house, this coverage also reimburses you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.

Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage for about 20 percent of the insurance on your house. Some companies will sell you a policy that provides you with an unlimited amount of loss of use coverage, for a limited amount of time.

Make sure you know exactly how much coverage you have for additional living expenses, and whether there is a time limit. If the standard coverage is not adequate, it can generally be increased for an additional premium.

4. Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?

Although not a key element in disaster planning, it is also important to have adequate liability protection. This covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or your family members may cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by pets. Liability insurance pays for both the cost of defending you in court and for any damages a court rules you must pay—up to the limits of your policy. Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available.

It is important to purchase enough liability insurance to protect your assets. If the standard liability coverage in your homeowners policy is not sufficient, you may need an excess liability, or umbrella, policy, which provides additional coverage over and above what is covered in your home (and auto) insurance policy. 

Preparing for a Hurricane

Tips to Protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Property

Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30. To prepare for a hurricane and other disasters, the I.I.I. recommends the following five tips.

1. Buy enough insurance 
  • Get enough insurance to rebuild your home and to replace all of your personal belongings. If you have made a major alteration or improvement to your home, or you have made significant purchases, notify your insurance agent so that the increased value is reflected in your policy.

  • Find out how much coverage you have for Additional Living Expenses (ALE). Additional living expenses coverage pays for the additional costs of living away from home, such as hotel bills and restaurant meals, while your house is being repaired or rebuilt. If you rent out part of your home, it would also replace lost income for the time you are not able to collect rent. Many policies provide coverage for 20 percent of the amount of insurance you have on your house and may be for a specified time period. Additional coverage is generally available for an extra premium. 

2. Get the right type of policy  
  • Ask about flood insurance. Flood damage is not covered under standard home insurance policies. Insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and can be purchased from the same agent or broker who provided your home or renters insurance. Additional information on flood insurance can be found at www.floodsmart.gov. Excess flood insurance is also available from some private insurance companies if you need more coverage than the $250,000 for property and $100,000 on contents that the NFIP provides.

  • Look into getting a guaranteed or extended replacement policy for the structure of your home. Extended replacement cost coverage pays a certain amount above the policy limit to replace a damaged home—generally 20 to 25 percent. A guaranteed replacement cost policy pays to rebuild your home regardless of cost. Both policies are designed to protect you in the event that after a major disaster the high demand for building contractors and materials pushes up the normal cost of reconstruction.

  • Ask about replacement cost coverage for your belongings. When insuring your possessions, you have two coverage choices. One is actual cash value, which replaces your possessions less depreciation. The other is replacement cost coverage, which replaces your property in today’s dollars—without a deduction for depreciation. It costs about 10 percent more, but provides more extensive coverage. 

3. Create a Home Inventory

A home inventory will help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions. It can also speed the claims process and substantiate losses for income tax purposes. A detailed home inventory is also helpful should you need to apply for disaster aid.

To make creating a home inventory easier, the I.I.I. provides free Web-based software at KnowYourStuff.org. Know Your Stuff allows you to organize easily and list your possessions, as well as add digital photographs of your valuables and upload scanned receipts. The program provides free, secure storage of your inventory on Amazon Web Services. Storing your inventory online gives you the ability to access it from any computer in the event your own computer is damaged or destroyed. 

Don’t be caught unprepared, get it all “On the Record”!

4. Prepare an Evacuation Plan

Plan ahead and practice so that your evacuation is safe, smooth and fast. In an emergency you may have only a few minutes to gather your important papers and leave your home, possibly for good. (NB: be sure to include pets in evacuation plan.)  Talk with your children about natural disasters. In the end, they will be less scared if you have discussed it ahead of time. They are going to hear and see it out the windows, so better to be prepared and have an understanding of what is happening.

Have the following ready to go: 

  • Medicines, prescriptions, (yours and pet's) comfort items and a change of clothes.

  • Toys, games and distractions for children.

  • Pet food, carriers, toys, leashes, tags, and records.

  • Emergency supplies such as cell phones (and chargers), flashlights, radio, batteries and water.

  • Computer hard drive or laptop.

  • Photographs.

  • Insurance policies; birth and marriage certificates; wills; deeds; financial information such as account numbers, recent tax returns, stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates; driver’s licenses and other personal identification. 

5. When evacuation is not an option
  • Have a safe place for the family that everyone know to head to in case of emergency.

  • Gas up all vehicles

  • Stock up on ice

  • Get some cash 

  • Scrub, and fill up bath tubs and washing machine. Pool water can be used for washing in a pinch.

  • Have a central location for needed items. You never know when the power will go out. Wash all laundry ahead of time. Get out 3 outfits for everyone in case you need to evacuate fast, or if the power is out you will not be searching all over the house to gather clothes in the dark. Keep some blankets, towels an other items in this central location. Also, add some entertainment, e.g. some books, cards, and a few board games. Your hurricane prep kit should also include: 

    • Paper Plates, napkins, and silverware (no water = you can not wash)

    • Toilet Paper

    • Diapers & wipes ( if you have a small child)

    • Formula ( if you need it)

    • Bottled water

    • Cereal bars

    • Flashlight ( one for everyone in the family)

    • Batteries

    • Candles

    • Lighter

    • Radio

    • Toiletries, feminine item

    • Charcoal for grill

6. Hurricane-Proof Your Home 
  • Install storm shutters to protect your windows or use plywood panels, which can be nailed to window frames when a storm approaches.

  • Make sure exterior doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt lock that is at least one-inch long. Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and covered with shutters or plywood.

  • Replace old garage doors and tracks with a door that is approved for both wind pressure and impact protection. Wind coming into your home through an opening this large poses grave problems for the rest of your home—especially your roof.

  • Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall to prevent water penetration by using a high quality urethane-based caulk.

  • Prepare your yard by removing all outdoor furniture, lawn items, planters and other materials that could be picked up by high winds. Trim trees and shrubbery and remove weak branches on plants and trees.

7. Hurricane Preparedness for Business Owners 

Prepare a business continuity plan. Having an emergency plan in the event of a natural disaster will help your business quickly recover.

  • Verify employee, supplier and vendor contact information so you can check on their well being and communicate next steps for resuming normal business operations. Use the downtime before the storm hits to update your supplier and vendor contact information, as well as other important contacts, such as your bank or insurance carriers.

  • Identify an alternative site for business operations should your facility be unavailable following the storm. Be sure the location is equipped with any special supplies or equipment that will be needed to continue business operations.

  • Secure your vital records and data and be sure all your important information is backed up and accessible should you not have access to your computers or network.

Staying Informed

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Phone: (407) 290-6262  E-mail: info@AllsafeIns.com

Summer Travel Insurance 

Travel insurance for summer vacation. Luxury or good idea? What to look for, and what to look out for.

Some travel insurance can protect against the loss of non-refundable travel costs such as air fare or hotel costs. Other travel insurance plans offer protection against financial loss due to medical emergencies, damage to personal property and death.

  • Trip Cancellation - Reimburses you for pre-paid travel expenses if you have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen situations such as illness, death or other conflicts.

  • Travel Delay - Reimbursement for out of pocket expenses if you have to delay your flight due to circumstances beyond your control, such as flight delay or cancellation.

  • Medical or Health - Reimburses out of pocket expenses for medical or dental emergencies, including those not covered by your major medical plan.

  • Medical Evacuation - Transport to a hospital near your location or back home.

Air ambulance charges, even for local transport, can run $5,000 or more. If you have to be returned to your home country, a charge of $30,000+ is not out of the ordinary.

Another concern, especially when traveling to a foreign country, is the need for translation of medical records. If you have something serious enough that may require follow up treatment, your doctor(s) back home may not have the ability to read Mandarin. Translation of medical records can easily run in the thousands but is a common benefit included in travel insurance plans.

If you are on Medicare you should be aware that you have no coverage outside the U.S. borders in most cases. Some (but not all) Medigap plans have limited coverage up to $50,000 for travel outside the United States.

Travel insurance policies are written on a "stand alone" basis but are best used as an adjunct to major medical coverage. As Karl Malden used to say, "Don't leave home without it".

Resolve Auto Insurance Issues Before the Summer Road Trip

Ensure you have adequate coverage and are aware of differences in state law.

As millions of American drivers spill out onto the road for summer vacations, it’s important to remember that increased traffic brings with it increased risk. Consumers need to be prepared for dealing with varying state laws and to make sure coverage will be adequate to pay for costs in the event of an accident.

Drivers crossing state lines need to be aware of risks that are associated with particular states. Drivers from Massachusetts may not find uninsured motorist coverage too enticing, since the state’s uninsured motorist rate is estimated at a mere 1 percent. But such coverage could prove invaluable when driving through states like New Mexico, which has an estimated 29-percent uninsured motorist rate. 

Quote startare almost certain to spend some time in jail until all parties are satisfied that responsibility has been assigned and adequate financial satisfaction received.Quote end

Unless higher vacation costs are desired, drivers need to also be aware of differences in state driving laws. A motorist living in a state that does not require drivers to carry proof of coverage might unthinkingly leave insurance papers at home; but if that same driver gets pulled over in one of the states requiring drivers to carry such proof, a fine can be expected.

And summer travelers who shrug off possible coverage complications could see dire consequences if the holiday plans involve a drive into Mexico. Although U.S. driver’s licenses are considered valid there, most insurance policies will not be honored south of the border, according to the U.S. Department of State. The department goes on to say that drivers without Mexican liability coverage who get in an accident in Mexico “are almost certain to spend some time in jail until all parties are satisfied that responsibility has been assigned and adequate financial satisfaction received.” Luckily, insurance that will be honored in Mexico can be purchased on either side of the border.

Source: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html

We'll be happy to help!

We're ready to handle your insurance for Autos, Homes, Property and Casualty, Boats Motorcycles, and all your Umbrellas insurance needs. 

New coverage or changes to existing policies; 

Give us a call. (407) 290-6262

Top 5 Summer Roadway Issues That Can Affect Your Insurance

1. Environmental challenges.

One of the biggest dangers that comes with summer weather conditions is that of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms can damage your car in several ways, for example, lightening strikes, hail and falling tree limbs. If you’re out on the road, thunderstorms can also make driving conditions more difficult and contribute to collisions.

The best defense against this problem is to park your car in a closed garage. If that’s not possible, try to park your car away from large trees when a thunderstorm is on the way.

2. Potholes and other difficult road conditions.

One of the most common challenges that drivers can face in terms of road conditions are potholes. Potholes are caused by simple wear and tear of the asphalt over time. Hitting a pothole at a high speed can damage your car’s suspension, as well as damaging the alignment and your tires.

Most auto insurance policies cover damage caused by potholes. However the damage they cause may be considered an “at fault” accident and cause increased insurance premiums.  

The best thing you can do to avoid them is to drive within speed limits. This gives you a little more time to see potholes coming and lessens the impact damage when you do hit them. The same goes for other difficult road conditions such as gravel roads and construction zones.

As a side note, be particularly careful in construction zones since speeding or careless driving inside a construction zone can result in a substantially increased fine if you receive a traffic ticket for this offence.        

3. Extra driving.

Most of us tend to drive more during the summer. Summer is the prime time for vacations, sight-seeing and cottage trips.

With the added kilometers, however, comes added risk. The simple fact is that, statistically, the more you drive, the greater your chance of being involved in a collision. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Stay awake and alert on long trips. Take a break from driving at least once every two hours and consider stopping for the night if you begin to get very tired.

  • Maintain visibility. When you’re packing your car for long trips, make sure you don’t block your windows or mirrors.

  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, including first aid equipment, basic tools for on the road maintenance and flares or orange reflective triangles in case you have to stop on the highway at night.

4. Vehicle Maintenance.

The added driving also means a greater need for vehicle maintenance. It’s a good idea to take your car in for a tune up and an oil change before you begin a long road trip. Here are some other things to check before you go:

  • Tire pressure

  • Engine coolant

  • Transmission fluid

5. Towing boats or trailers

One of the more unique challenges of summer is pulling a boat or trailer with you along the highway. Your car insurance covers the physical damage to your vehicle,  but not collision or comprehensive coverage of the boat or trailer you’re hauling with it.

As a result, you may be required to have separate insurance for whatever you’re towing. This protects you financially from any damage to the trailer from an accident in which you are considered at fault.     

Fortunately, car insurance policies do include third party liability coverage which covers the cost of any damage you may cause. If another driver were to damage your boat or trailer as a result of an accident for which they were considered at fault, that driver’s third party liability insurance would cover the damage. 

Preparation is the key to protecting yourself. Keeping these issues in mind can help you handle the driving challenges that come with summer and vacation travel, and ensure that you have a safe and happy summer.

Common Summer Pet Health Issues

Spring and summer season turns fields and nature to green. But as the world blooms with colorful flowers, harmful insects and diseases are on the hunt for prey. Your pets are easy targets.

Fleas and Ticks. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, some reptiles and amphibians. They could carry a number of diseases, including Lyme disease, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, tick-borne meningoencephalitis and more. Fleas are external parasites too, living by hematophagy off the blood of mammals (including bats and humans) and birds, and can transmit bubonic plague and m any other diseases between different wild animals, pets and humans. Fleas and Ticks readily spread during warm weather and could infect dogs and cats with allergies and infections if not treated early or properly. Make sure you buy good flea and tick control products capable of killing them, including the eggs present on pet coats & skin.

Disease Carrying Animals. These include mosquitoes and most wild animals like rabbits and rodents that could carry zoonotic diseases like plague, tularemia, lung & heart worms and leptospirosis (a bacterial disease that impairs kidney function and may result in kidney failure). Some of these pet diseases have potential for human infection also. Use mosquito repellants and eliminate standing water around your home to avoid attracting egg-laying mosquitoes. When hiking or walking in the woods or forest, don’t just let pets drink water from the wild, not even when there are no signs that the water is un safe. Wild animals’ feces and waste could flow into this water. Give you pet vitamins that could boost their health to fight diseases and allergies.

Be careful of loud noises. Some common summer sounds can be scary to your pets. Fireworks and thunderstorms are the often the biggest offenders. Thunderstorms arise very fast and can really cause pets to become frightened.  Make sure your pets are in a safe place where they cannot hurt themselves or get loose. Many times their natural instinct is to run, and we see lots of pets getting lost during times when there are storms or loud fireworks going off.

If your dog is noise phobic, here are some tips for dealing with loud events:

  • Plan extra exercise for your dog during the day so she is tired and will want to hit the sack early. If your dog won’t take a nap, distract him with other activities such as a game of indoor fetch or a feeding toy. These toys slowly dispense pieces of food as your dog plays with them.

  • Provide a safe and familiar environment for sleeping. The safest place is his crate. In the room where the crate is located, close the windows and drapes to keep out both noise and flashes of light. Provide some background noise, the TV, radio or air conditioner, to drown out the noise.

  • Aromatherapy is also worth a try. Rub lavender oil on your dog’s earflaps or use one of the pheromone products designed to mimic the comfort signals a mother dog sends to her puppies.

  • Your dog can also become sensitized to the sudden drop in air pressure or the electrical charge of the air. Utilizing a humidifier will increase the moisture level in your home and wiping down the pet's fur with a dryer sheet may decrease the buildup of static electricity caused by the impending thunderstorm.

  • Consider desensitization of your dog. This involves playing a commercially available CD with recorded fireworks noise while engaging your dog in a fun activity. The volume is gradually increased while your dog becomes used to the noise. If you need help with this endeavor, you should consider a consultation with a veterinary behavior specialist. This project requires time, and you have plenty of time to start now for next year.

  • Be sure your pet is microchipped and has up to date tags on his collar. Also make sure you have a recent photo of your pet in case you need to make a lost pet poster.

If these suggestions don’t seem to help, see your veterinarian to discuss using a tranquilizer. Remember, your veterinarian will want to see your dog, get an accurate weight and determine the appropriate medication to prescribe

UV Ray and Pet Heatstroke. Summer has longer and hotter days. Temperature can rise easily, and unlike human, pets can’t sweat to relieve body heat instantly. Never leave pets in vehicles or closed unventilated rooms. Provide shade and shelter. Make sure they have access to fresh and clean water that is flowing to ensure it has enough oxygen content; it is recommended to use automatic pet waterers and fountains. 

Cooling pet beds, cooling jackets and bandanas not only relieve body heat easily, but also alleviate body pains, joint aches and arthritis, especially for senior pets. Don’t overexert pets with too much play under the hot sun. Give them cooling pet treats such as frozen kong and chew toys or meaty bones to keep them busy in a cool place. 

Common signs of heatstroke are panting, rapid heartbeat, dry & warm skin, high fever, anxious expression or behavior, failure to obey commands, vomiting and collapsing. Grooming pets give them not only good looks but a lighter and cooler feeling. And as always, close supervision is a must.

Cool overheated pets down by spraying or pouring cool water over them every 5 to 10 minutes and placing them under the breeze from a fan. Don’t place your pet in a tub of cold water or apply ice packs. Call your veterinarian right away and get your pet to the pet clinic for an exam and treatment.

Watch out for antifreeze. Hot weather may tempt your pet to drink from puddles in the street, which can contain antifreeze and other chemicals. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that animals like, but it’s extremely toxic. When you’re walking your pet, make sure she doesn’t sneak a drink from the street.

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